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Episode 11: From Being a Young Student to an Owner and CEO of a Mature Company

Startup Stories DSM with Kate Banasiak

August 16, 2018

Kate Banasiak is CEO and majority owner of a company that began when she was just 4 years old — Diversified Management Solutions.

The Greater Des Moines (DSM) company works with trade and nonprofit member-based associations serving as executive director, event staff and marketing.

Starting young

Banasiak got her start after working at a hotel through college. She enjoyed her studies in business management and hospitality and reached out to seek advice. From there she got involved with Diversified Management Solutions and that’s when an opportunity to join the business presented itself.

Aged 24, Banasiak negotiated a minority buy-in into the business. Nine years later, she was able to buy out a second partner and now owns 67 percent of the company.

“[I had] the lack of knowing all the things that could go wrong,” Banasiak told Startup Stories DSM podcast. “[I was] just being young and courageous with my career at that point in time to know hopefully I could recover from whatever I did wrong.”

Banasiak says the advice she received from the Small Business Administration and SCORE was vital to create a business plan and navigate ways to purchase her share of the business.

Since Banasiak joined, Diversified Management Solutions has gone from employing 12 people to 21 who work with clients locally, nationally and sometimes internationally.

Life happens

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing. In 2017, Banasiak’s brother, grandfather and aunts passed away. She also had several small medical procedures. Banasiak relied on the standardized process she had previously implemented and strong leadership on her team to keep things going when her family needed her.

“I had gone to some different classes on process management and about how you really make people step up to the plate. Even probably having a kid taught me this a little bit,” Banasiak said. “I had a great friend that at the beginning told me, ‘I was telling my husband that he was doing it wrong one day and I realized, actually, he’s not doing it wrong, he’s doing it his way.” 

That’s a rule Banasiak has taken to business. “Just because it wasn’t done exactly as I would do it, doesn’t mean that it’s not being done right.”

The two mindsets of Banasiak’s parents she says helped her become a small business owner. Her mom was a social worker and dad was an engineer. He was the one who figured out how the pieces fit together while her mom made things work on any budget.

“That’s a lot of small business,” Banasiak said.   

Banasiak advice for other small business owners and entrepreneurs is don’t work in your business, work on your business. Banasiak says she regularly schedules time to service her business just like she would a client.

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